When I was in fifth grade, I had a diary. I wrote in it religiously every night for about five weeks, and then sadly, I stopped. Those thirty-three entries paint a picture of my world at that time.
At the age of eleven, I was allowed to walk downtown with my friends for french fries and a coke. We’d go to the “Sweet Shop”, which was on Main Street across from the library.
On a half day in January, I walked with my friends to John Hill School to watch some basketball games. I mapped it and was surprised that the walk was only one mile each way. You know the route: Down Cornelia Street to Main Street, left at the Town Hall onto Lathrop Avenue, and then less than half a mile further to the school. Would I let you all do this today? Maybe, but the answer is not a definite yes. Back then, Grandma would not give it a second thought.
That year I was allowed to go ice skating on the Main Street rink with my friends. At age eleven this was apparently not a big deal. However, I did find it incredible that Grandma allowed me to take seven year old Aunt Ar with me. Apparently, while I skated with my friends, she was supervised by nine year old Gail. Would Grandma have approved of that? Did she know I had passed on my responsibility to my younger cousin?
Okay, maybe that was not a big deal, but wait until you hear what I also learned from my diary. On Grandma’s birthday, I walked downtown to buy her a birthday present with Aunt Ar and Aunt El, who was only four. It was a Saturday afternoon, Grandma was at work, and I imagine that Grandpa was stuck home babysitting my not quite one and three year old brothers. Did she find out later and get angry with Grandpa, or was this just another common occurrance?
My guess is that we went to Newberry’s, which was similar to today’s dollar stores. Back then, they were also known as “five and dime stores.” (Side note family trivia: Thirty-seven years earlier, where Newberry’s sat in 1966 was the exact site where Grandma was born in 1929.)
Today was Mommy’s birthday. She still went to work. I took Arlene and Ellen downtown to buy her a gift. We chose a pretty pin and earring set. Later I went ice skating. Tonight Mommy and Daddy went out, so Janice came to babysit. When I left for Gram’s, it was snowing hard.
The following day, I was put to work performing manual labor.
When I awoke it was still snowing hard and there was a lot of snow on the ground. After breakfast, I went out and shoveled. The snow is wet and heavy. I shoveled snow many more times.
Grandma worked as a switchboard operator at Community Medical Group in town. I mentioned earlier that my first job was working there. As long as I can remember Grandma had that job. She worked in the evening from 4:00 until closing and also on Saturdays. She would have dinner started, but I had to help get it on the table and babysit until Grandpa came home.
After school, Karen and I went saucer riding in back. We really flew. I finished making supper.
We were given more responsibility at a much younger age than today, and as you can see, we also had more freedom to wander around town without adult supervision. Sadly, those days are gone forever.